Camping Chronicles Entry 1 — LONER by Caroline Rose

Cover art for LONER, by Caroline Rose. 2018.

LONER by Caroline Rose was released on February 23, 2018.

When someone is born and raised in suburbia or a metropolitan part of the world, where nothing besides a canceled credit card or a deceitful husband could happen, you start to notice the little things. The characters, the stories everyone slowly lives out. The roles women play no matter who they are, the same thing for men. How children or young adults play in this world, your job, your friends or social life, etc. It can be for the worst, for the best or the… interesting outlooks. It’s like a living Truman Show, not helped by the extent of commercialism played out today.

And of course, in a haze of realization or a 24/7 remake of the same 1999 film, you need a soundtrack to reaffirm the certain moments. Some would argue as to what album or what artist can do so, and to be completely honest, there are a lot of examples like this. An awareness like this has never been new: Courtney Barnett’s last two albums plus her collaboration with Kurt Vile feel like the Australian and noisier outburst of this, the entire career of Parquet Courts, Vampire Weekend, John Rosenstock, or the pre-First Impression days Strokes have been defined by this subject. Our first Camping Chronicles entry, LONER by Caroline Rose, also follows this oddly universal kind of genre, one I’ve dubbed Ivy League Protection Rock (or ILPR for short). While on the surface it may feel like another example, a deeper dive finds one of the more interesting takes on a genre queued for by young adults walking along Ivy League walls with a venti iced coffee in hand.

One defining characteristic of this genre I have come to find is usually in the perspective the artist takes onto that protective world where they live in. Some like VW or the Strokes take it in a mildly-sarcastic way that moves on with their day. Others like Barnett and Rosenstock take it in chaotic reality, destroying everything in their sight but also willing to put everything back and move on afterward. It is followed heavily on LONER, but with unique perspectives to follow to consider instead of the lead themselves. Caroline does not just limit herself to biting sarcasm or chaos, she takes into consideration parts of oneself that many could relate to beyond feelings of smart cynicism over picket fences. A song like “To Die Today” has an eerie feeling of melancholy and acceptance of your ever-present life ending; there is also a song like “Talk”, in which you feel the genuine state of mental health-induced paranoia kick in behind snarling, tense filled guitar riffs. It doesn’t feel limited to the basics of her ILPR counterparts, but rather a reflection of what one can do beyond earnest melodies or semi-sneering lyrics.

Caroline Rose performing in San Fransisco, CA for Rickshaw Stop. Photographed by Norm deVeyra, June 15, 2018.

That same slew of emotions also brings up another major point in Ivy League is a feeling of vague storytelling. In the vein of artsy storytellers like Wes Anderson, artists like these tend to dive more into emotions and how idiosyncratic details could fit into such more than traditional, coherent lyrics (examples used for this would most likely be Hippo Campus, the Strokes, COIN, and the kings of this technique, Vampire Weekend ). This method is of course followed by Caroline; you get a feeling for her discontent with the cookie-cutterness of the world in “More of The Same”, a sensation of loneliness surrounded by love and fun in “Getting to Me”, and the jealousy of love in the album closer “Animal”. What stands out however is how the songs themselves are written, and how many visuals you could get by simply listening and paying attention to the lyrics. “Bikini” reads like an update part of the riot grrl’s matra with snarling commentary on rising to fame (“We’re gonna put you in the movies and our TV/All you’ve got to do is put on this little bikini” stands out the most), while “Soul №5” plays on the bitchy, carefree side of oneself that pops up, using the soul as a comparison to such (“You and me, girl, we have a really good time/But I like to hit ’em and quit ’em that’s just my style” as well as “Rolling out the carpet and then shining down the lights/My girls are looking good and we going out tonight” standing out most of all). It isn’t all rainbows though: “Jeanie Becomes a Mom” takes from Rose’s own personal life and reflects the slow turn around of adulthood while the world moves on, almost taking a Lynchian turn with its instrumentals (“But the world don’t stop/Even when you’re living in colour”).

The album does still have it’s faults, however, if only small. The changing of songs can be off, from the hopeful-sounding “Getting to Me” to the unfamiliarity of “To Die Today”. As well, some songs go off for much longer riffs than they should for others (though that may also be me wanting more from the interlude track “Smile!”). However, the substance of this album goes well over the faults of this record, and shows that there is ongoing light for bands or artists like Caroline Rose. LONER is overall a well-done album, crafted with a sense of overwhelming emotions but the bite of catchy riffs and wonderful drumming, production that can feel welcoming with every new song, and lyrical matter which bounces back to the cynical beginnings of bands in ILPR. Detailed in every sense, but in a euphoric sense as well — just as suburbia or metropolitans are onto themselves.

Promotional picture of Caroline Rose. 2018.

Best Tracks: Getting To Me, Cry, More of The Same, Animal

Worst Tracks: Talk, To Die Today

Pick up Caroline Rose’s LONER on Bandcamp: